Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wild, Wild West

Earlier this year, one of our neighboring classes had a "Western Day". As they paraded around our school, several of my kids wanted to know when our western theme would be. I realized that our calendar was planned for the year, and I hadn't planned a western week this year. The kids asked again, so I thought I would take another look at our calendar. The only week I thought I could change was the following week. I knew that it would be a fun theme, but I finally had my lesson plans for the week finished early. I ended up deciding to just scrap the week I'd planned, and see what I could come up with. The week went well and we took lots of pictures.

When I was asked the other day for some good activities to do for a western theme, I decided to go through some of the pictures and realized somehow most of them had been deleted. I thought I'd share some of the activities we did that week before any other shots were gone or I forgot the ideas completely!

Family Involvement Activity
I sent a construction paper boot home with each child and asked them to decorate it with their families. They were allowed to use any adornments they chose. The boots turned out really cute and the families were very creative!

Draw A Cowboy
I gave the students die cuts of hats and boots to glue to the top and bottom of a page. I then asked them to draw a cowboy in between!

Decorate A Catcus
Die cuts of cacti were available in the art center. Many of the kids decorated with collage materials. (I also had hay in the art center that week. It made nice "thorns"!)

Country Music and Square Dancing

 My friends love to dance! Here are a few the hit the top of the Billboard in our class:

These Boots Are Made for Walking
Cotton Eyed Joe
Rocky Top
Thank God I'm A Country Boy
Oh, Susannah
She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain
Home On The Range

Math and Language Arts Activities

Roll 'Em, Round 'Em, Corral 'Em
This was a fun math activity I made up. We used farm animals and rolled the dice and put that many animals  in our corral. When all the animals were corralled, we took turns counting all the animals in each corral together. "Who had the most? The least? More horses? More cows?" There are lots of possibilities for this game!

I programmed boots and cacti die cuts (hand cut! ughh...) with uppercase, lowercase letters, numbers and dots for each number to have in centers and play games with.

I also did some of the activities here at Hummingbird's Educational Resources.

Special Lunch
We made Beanie Weenies for lunch one day. We made a Trail Mix with Cheerios, Chex, mini marshmallows, chocolate chips, M&;M's, raisins, goldfish, etc. The kids could pick which ever mixture they wanted (with a limit on the sweet stuff)!

One day, we made s'mores! Mmmmm!

Sensory Table
 We had two sensory tubs going since I couldn't decide which I wanted to do. One tub had sand and water with gold painted rocks and sifters for panning gold. The other had hay. The kids took turns hiding different types of toys in the hay.

Dramatic Play  

I transformed our dramatic play area into a ranch. There were dress up clothes and lots of cowboy hats available (even a pink one). We made hobby horses with troughs full of hay, had a paper campfire, a tent, lantern and bedroll. The kids loved "camping out under the stars" !

Cowboy Vests
We used bulletin board paper to make cowboy vests. In the past, I have used brown paper bags, but they are complicated to cut and it ends up being a lot of work for the teacher. This was simply a sheet of bb paper folded in half with the neck cut out. These freed us up to allow the children to get about the more important task of decorating them!

Outdoor Activities:
These were a lot of fun, we'll definitely try them again!
Barrel racing with trikes--the kids loved this!
What time is Mr. Cowboy? Round Up Time! (Just like "What Time Is It Mr. Fox? )
Potato Sack Races  (even more fun to watch, tee, hee, hee!)
and a lasso game where the students had to throw a hula hoop "lasso" and try to "rope" a "steer" (chair)

Some of our favorite reads:
How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Dragonfly Books)
Armadilly Chili
Pecos Bill
Armadillo Rodeo
The Gingerbread Cowboy
Armadillo Tattletale
Bubba the Cowboy Prince
Matthew the Cowboy
Cowgirl Kate


This was a great unit to teach and the kids had a lot of fun with it. It allowed me to touch on a lot of different areas, which gave me  a lot of flexibility to come up with activities that focused on the skills I really needed to assess.  I will definitely do this again next year!


  1. Holy cow Ayn! Look at all this you came up with on such short notice. I am stunned by your flexibility, creativity and fast thinking. I'm on my knees to you right now!

  2. Here is a link for you to bookmark for next year's Western Unit:


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